In our Bible study tonight, we began to look at the book of Joel, another one of the minor prophets. In the first chapter of this book we see that Israel was facing devastation and loss because of an invasion of locusts. The situation was hopeless; every crop had been ravaged and the country was facing famine and despair. So often, it takes a crisis of this kind of proportion to wake us from our complacency and comfort, to make us realise that independence and control are illusory. The truth is that we are not in control of life and that calamity may only be a breath away. God wants us to live in daily dependence on Him; the call in Joel is one which remains very relevant to today. We must wake up (Joel 1:5), mourn (Joel 1:8), despair, wail and grieve (Joel 1:11) and repent and fast before God. (Joel 1:13-14) This message may not be popular, but the truth is that we cannot rejoice in God unless we have turned back to Him and seen our need for Him.
It’s not known when this prophecy was given, though some believe it was after the exile. The situation was unprecedented – a word we have heard with alarming frequency since the beginning of 2020 – but the response was (and always will be) the same. Whenever crisis comes into our lives, the call is to turn to God. It’s so easy for us to think we are in control of life and to respond to crises with bitterness towards God, treating Him like a sugar daddy whose only purpose should be to bless us. God is always seeking our good, but sometimes we are deaf and prefer our own paths. It can take a crisis to wake us up to how far we have strayed from Him. He calls us always to return to Him, like the Prodigal Son, and to lean on Him rather than on our own understanding.